New Covid-19 variant detected in Israel, health ministry says

TEL AVIV (REUTERS) – Israel has detected four cases of the new, highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that has emerged in Britain, the Israeli health ministry said on Wednesday (Dec 23).

Three of the cases were returnees from England and are isolating at a hotel designated as a coronavirus quarantine facility, the health ministry said.

The fourth case is under investigation, it added.

Israel launched a coronavirus vaccination drive on Saturday and has vaccinated 70,000 out of its nine million population, health ministry data shows.

Having secured vaccines from drugmakers Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, Israel expects to have enough doses by the year’s end for the 20 per cent of its population most prone to Covid-19 complications.

Israel has reported 383,385 coronavirus cases and 3,136 deaths.

It has imposed two national lockdowns and may soon order new sweeping restrictions amid an uptick in new cases.

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